Update on Chronic Medication Dispensing | Western Cape Government


Update on Chronic Medication Dispensing

11 April 2012

Western Cape Health Minister Theuns Botha announced that the automated dispensing of patient medication parcels will resume as from Thursday, 12 April 2012.

At the beginning of the month, the new service provider, UTi Pharma, informed the Department of Health of backlogs in the dispensing and production processes at their new facility, resulting in the delay in the delivery of patient medicine parcels to facilities, mostly in the Metro, one facility in the Winelands (TC Newman CDC) and less than five facilities on the West Coast.

The delay was caused by the complexity of the patient data transfer of 200 000 patient files from the previous contractor to the new contractor, implementation of new business processes, together with the commissioning of sophisticated new equipment by the new contractor. The service provider is required to package and deliver approximately 175 000 patient parcels a month to 118 health facilities, most of which are located in the Metropole.

For the past two weeks, the department and the service provider have been dispensing medicines manually whilst the systems referred to above have been activated. From 12 April 2012, the contractor will resume deliveries of pre-packed prescriptions to many of the facilities and the contractor will over the next month progressively increase the numbers of subscriptions that are pre-packed until the full quota of both new and existing patient scripts is achieved.

Minister Botha said that the Western Cape is pushing new boundaries in terms of medicine dispensing, and is certainly leading the country in this regard. "The new contract with UTi outlined expansion to new outlets and posed new challenges for the provider. What we are now experiencing are teething problems, but they are in the process of being resolved and we expect the service to resume as from today."

"However, we do apologise to our patients for the disruption and inconvenience this has caused, but believe that in the long-term we will alleviate long queues at facilities and bring about an improved service. No other province in this country offers such a service. I would assure all patients that alternative plans have been made to ensure that no one should not receive essential medication," said Minister Botha.

The department has set up a helpline for patients. This helpline is manned by a pharmacist who assists with questions regarding medication and offering telephonic advice regarding the nearest 24-hour facility in the event of an urgent need or emergency. The helpline number is 083 472 9300.


The CDU service is an outsourced service, where the patient medicine parcels are pre-packed by a private contractor and delivered to our facilities three days before collection date. In July 2011, the tender contract with the previous service provider came to an end. In August 2011, the department appointed two interim service providers for six months to provide the service until a new service provider could be appointed.

Media Enquiries: 

Hélène Rossouw
Spokesperson for Minister Botha
Tel: 021 483 4426
Cell: 082 771 8834
E-mail: helene.rossouw@pgwc.gov.za